"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Wildflower Survey

Last year I registered with Plantlife to take part in their Wildflowers Count Survey. There have been a few changes this year as the Count has been incorporated into the National Plant Survey Scheme. Last year there were just 99 species to look for during the survey but the list has been extended this year and species are arranged by habitat type so I was looking for around 200 species. Luckily, I keep the same 1 km grid square as last year. The survey will help various botanical organisations learn more about where wildflowers are growing, measure the condition of the UK's wildflowers and their habitats and advise Uk and national governments on the state of the natural environment using plants as indicators.

Again this year I've elected to survey by following a Wildflowers path where you work out a 1km walk through the grid square and record the plants you see from the list of 200 within 2 metres to the side of the path you are following and make a note of the different habitats.

My 1 kilometre route starts in Brueton Park, Solihull, where the start of the work includes a lake and amenity grassland. I then follow a public footpath through woodland and alongside the River Blythe, past grassland and scrub, through more woodland and past meadows and finishing off in another section of wood. Apart from the constant drone of the nearby M42 you feel as though you are in the heart of the countryside even though its only a mile from Solihull Town Centre.

A very muddy footpath through the woods!

The River Blythe - most of the time it runs more than 2 metres from the path.

Leaving the woodland to walk past buttercup-filled meadows.

On this photo you can see how close the M42 is at this part of the walk.

Cow parsley and hawthorn line the path.

Photos of a few of the species I saw

Garlic Mustard

Cow Parsley

White Dead-nettle

Buttercup and beetle! There were two species of Buttercup along the walk - Meadow and Creeping

Wood Avens

Buttercups (again)

Wild Garlic (or Ramsons)

Red Campion

Yellow Archangel


Cow Parsley and Buttercup Meadow

I spotted 33 species that were on the list and still have quite a few grasses, ferns and sedges to identify. I shall return again in 6/8 weeks time when more species should be in flower to re-survey.

A few species that aren't at the moment on the list (2014 is a transition year for the survey and more changes will be made for 2015).

Horse Chestnut



Ivy-leaved Speedwell

The first part of the walk is close to back gardens and quite a few plants are garden escapees such as this Purple Toothwort

and Fringe Cup

I didn't take my binoculars as I wanted to concentrate on flowers but there were quite a few damsel and dragonflies too far away to identify plus this Drinker Moth caterpillar

Spider of unknown species - my spider id skills are more or less non-existent!

Banded Snail

Tiny beetles on a buttercup flower

For those who enjoyed Edith Holden's "Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady" and "Nature Notes" she often used to walk along this stretch of the River Blythe. One of these days when I have more time I will return to finish off the series of posts I did on the areas where she used to walk. There are still quite a few locations I haven't yet visited.

For more information on Plantlife and the survey please visit www.plantlife.org.uk

Thanks to Tony for help on Fringe Cup and Dave (via Twitter) for help with identification on plants and tree saplings not yet in flower


amanda peters said...

Looks like a nice place to record, just got my pack last week. Started like you last year for the first time.. Was hoping to do my first visit this weekend but not stopped raining.It might be just me but I do find what we have this year a little confusing..!

Countryside Tales said...

We saw Fringe Cups on the banks at Studland a couple of weeks back. It took ages to ID them and we only did by luck when we came across pics on another blog.
Sounds like a very interesting project to be part of.

Ragged Robin said...

Amanda Peters Thanks - yes it is a good square - I'm lucky :) I agree I find it more confusing this year with all the extra species. Typed up a huge list with all the species on for the different habitats which helped a little. But there are a lot more species I am not familiar with and the grasses and sedges are a nightmare - haven't identified one yet!! Good luck with yours :)

Countryside Tales - Thanks. Yes, I found the Fringe cup id difficult because they did look more like a wildflower. Had an email from someone who reminded me they had identified them for me last year - doh!

Chris Rohrer said...

First off, I would love to go on that walk with you. I wouldn't know any of the plants at all, but you seem to know the whole lot! Or at least a good number of them. I love these types of surveys. Not that they give me a reason to be outdoors, but to challenge the ID skills. It's active learning at its best. Beautiful area although I would have to wear the mud boots:)

Ragged Robin said...

Chris Rohrer - Thanks Chris - I do hope you get chance to come over here one day :) I think I've managed to id most of the plants I saw although I am really struggling on the grasses and sedges!!!

I enjoy doing surveys a lot - I also do a couple of bird ones and also take part in the Garden Moth Scheme and challenge - the latter is more of a fun thing. But it does, as you say, give you a reason for getting out and researching more id and its good to know that, in a very small way, you are contributing to knowledge of species distribution etc.!!

lol re: mud boots :) I wore wellies - I remembered from last year how muddy it was. But I forgot to warn my son who came along with me and was only wearing pumps!! He was not happy!! Luckily that particular pair of pumps had already got coated in mud a few weeks before at Ryton Woods!!

Toffeeapple said...

I hope you do find time to continue your Country Diary theme, I enjoyed it very much. As I did this post too, thank you.

Ragged Robin said...

Toffeeapple - Thanks so much. Yes I will try and carry on with the Country Diary posts. I am not keen on going on my own to 2 of the places I need to visit so will go when I can persuade someone to go with me!!! Yarningale Common soon though is a must - I used to visit there as a child with my mum and dad and Edith visited at least once.